When the four-man unit of Bloc Party unraveled and went on hiatus back in 2009, they were a band at the peak of their powers. Their third LP, Intimacy, was a mega-ambitious realization of the band’s growing interest in electronic music, and its success suggested that Bloc Party might have been the only stars of the angular-guitar era with the talent and ambition to evolve gracefully past their post-punk roots.
It’s terribly disappointing then, that with singer Kele Okereke’s forgettable solo album now out of the way, they’ve abandoned all that progress in favour of a back-to-basics approach to this legacy-spoiling mistake of a comeback album. The uptempo rockers heard on Four are so artless as to suggest they were all conceived in a single restless practice session, complete with tired dance-punk missteps (“Octopus”), grungy clunkers (“Coliseum”), and one song so bad it sounds like Angels & Airwaves (“Kettling”).
The only saving grace here is that Okereke has always known his way around a heart-gripping love song, and he’s able to channel the band’s romantic heights of yore on the album’s most listenable moments (“Day 4,” “Truth”).
Altogether, the songwriting inconsistency makes Four sound like an album born out of obligation rather than inspiration. And it leaves Bloc Party sounding like a band who regrouped for the wrong reasons.
Playlist picks: “Day 4,” “Truth”